Years ago, I learned one of the key pieces of startup wisdom from a serial entrepreneur and instructor at Stanford named Steve Blank. He repeated it over and over in class: “Get out of the building!”
By this he meant that the best thing you can do as an entrepreneur is to talk to potential customers. Too many entrepreneurs stay inside their garage or office and work on what they think people want, instead of validating actual demand by going out into the world and talking to people.
Fast forward to this week. I had the pleasure of hosting a group of young entrepreneurs from Ghana at my startup near San Francisco. They were in the process of getting WAY out of their buildings. Most had never left Ghana, but they decided to trek all the way out to San Francisco to demo their products at the LAUNCH conference.
These entrepreneurs were launching their companies out of the Meltwater Foundations’ incubator in Accra, Ghana. The companies they had started are as follows:
–NandiMobile, SMS customer support
–Streemio, mobile music streaming
–RetailTower, helps online merchants integrate with comparison shopping engines
What most impressed me was the entrepreneurs’ knowledge and familiarity with the same startup lessons that people discuss here in Silicon Valley. One of the entrepreneurs asked me if I had any advice for B2B companies. I responded that I thought that the most important thing was the same no matter whether the startup was B2B or B2C. The advice: Get out of the building and talk to customers.
One of the entrepreneurs nodded and said: “Must be Steve Blank!” Just another piece of evidence supporting the globalization of entrepreneurial wisdom. I wish these entrepreneurs much success!